No matter how many times the spirits are distilled, the world of cocktails remains as murky as ever. Labeling laws are lax compared to any other edible product available for purchase, allowing producers to omit all potential allergens, origins, methods, and co-packers. Broad assumptions can safely be made about the basics, but as soon as any flavors are invited to the party, all bets are off. It’s tough being vegan and enjoying a truly happy hour.
Even well-meaning bartenders often forget the little details, like fish-based Worcestershire sauce in bloody Mary mix, or honey syrup sweetening a gold rush. There are some common sense guidelines to follow for keeping spirits high, but the best advice I can give? Trying your best means making mistakes sometimes, especially if you’re already one or two drinks in. I know I’ve gotten it wrong, only to find out days or even weeks later. It sucks, but it doesn’t make you any less vegan, and if it’s not a matter of allergies, it won’t hurt you either. Live, learn, and raise a glass to all the straight-up imperfections along the way.
Based on some of the bizarre ingredients chosen to filter various spirits, you’d think that producers were already drunk by the time they clocked into work. These antiquated, animal-based components include:
Creative mixology knows no bounds, which can sometimes become problematic for those with dietary or ethical concerns. When in doubt, always ask for specifics.
Next time you want to stock your home bar, stick to the essentials to ensure higher quality and cleaner flavor across the board. Look hard enough and you’ll find exceptions to every rule, but generally speaking and especially for top shelf options, these are always vegan-friendly spirits because they’re distilled, rather than filtered:
No matter what you raise a glass of, please remember to drink responsibly and know your limits. If you can appreciate the vegan virtues that go into crafting your favorite cocktails while savoring the moment with friends, so much the better.
Save your side eye for more questionable content; the idea of infusing mushrooms into drinks is nothing new. Add them to coffee or tea and call them nootropics, but at the end of the day, you’re staring down the same thing at the bottom of your glass. Though medicinal mushrooms are billed as a silent partner, contributing to your wellness cache without being outspoken about it, there’s no reason why bolder fungi can’t belly up to the bar.
As we’ve discussed before, Sugimoto Shiitake are on a whole different level from the average spore. Rich with free glutamates that create an unmistakable savory flavor, it’s easy to leverage their inherent wealth of aroma and unique pungency to enhance any dish. The concept certainly doesn’t end when happy hour strikes.
When used properly, shiitake in any form elevates the subtle nuances in all the components that coalesce into a carefully curated, intentional eating or drinking experience. Like salt, it should never taste overtly salty (or mushroomy, in this case), but allow the other players to shine as their best, truest selves.
There’s real scientific evidence supporting the use of shiitake in mixology. To better understand why this pairing works, let’s break down the primary tasting notes:
Remind you of anything else? Yes, whiskey is a match made in heaven for this umami infusion! That’s why my Umami Old Fashioned is a foolproof twist on the classic cocktail that will never let you down.
The classic old fashioned is one of the easiest cocktails you could pour. Just four ingredients stand between you and that first bold, bracing sip: whiskey, sugar, bitters, and orange peel. To add some extra umami into the equation, we need to factor in two more ingredients: dried shiitake and time.
Since a little bit goes a long way when we’re talking about bitters, even this small amount should last a good while. Don’t reserve your supply only for cocktails; it’s a rich flavoring agent for a wide range of cooking applications too. Consider incorporating it into:
Once you start sipping, you’ll never want to stock the bar without this secret ingredient again. Cheers, to a new fashioned Old Fashioned that can keep up with the times.
When it comes to probiotics, it’s easy to go with your gut. There’s no need to take supplements to reap the benefits of all that good bacteria when there are hundreds of delicious options that pack an even bigger punch. Long touted as a healthier alternative to soda, kombucha has enjoyed a recent resurgence in popularity, raising the profile of many other natural probiotic beverages along with it. Kefir, apple cider vinegar, yogurt drinks, and even straight pickle or kimchi juice are on tap all around the world, crossing cultural boundaries and blending with modern tastes. Despite that, there’s one contender that has remained largely unknown… Until now.
Tepache is the Mexican equivalent that predates colonial times. Fermented pineapple is the base, lending a sweet and tangy flavor without any added sugar. The best example I can think of is Big Easy Tepache for the time-honored techniques that deliver a refreshing experience bolstered with serious gut health benefits.
Like juice-based agua frescas, the flavors are limitless when it comes to tepache. The Original, a pure, clean study of pineapple vitality is a good place to start, demonstrating how versatile that gently effervescent base can be. Cocktails or mocktails come alive, quite literally, with billions of natural non-dairy probiotic cultures sparkling in the sun. Mango Mandarin, Strawberry Hibiscus, and Prickly Pear Lime add splashes of color to the tropical lineup in totally crushable cans.
If you crave bubbles with a bit of sweetness like me, you’ll want to stock your fridge for summer. Tepache has typical soft drinks beat by a mile; does your cola come with 7 grams of fiber and just 45 calories a pop? No, I didn’t think so.
Just for starters, you could…
Don’t worry if you’ve been turned off by the harsh acidity of other similar probiotic drinks. Big Easy Tepache is certified toddler tested and approved, according to the founders’ own tiny Chief Taste Tester. Take it easy; tepache is for everyone.
This post was made possible as a collaboration with Moms Meet and Big Easy Bucha. My opinions can not be bought and all content is original. This page may contain affiliate links; thank you for supporting my blog!
It’s no exaggeration to say that every company out there making anything vaguely resembling a liquid is now making hard seltzer. The Saturday Night Live sketch is so hilarious because it’s true, and you know what? I would legitimately purchase a variety pack including Men’s Jackets or Belts and Ties as flavor options. In fact, I have casually dropped cans of “Yard Darts” and “Skinny Dipping” into my basket as if those were on par with commonplace Lemon-Lime.
This profusion of hard seltzers can be chalked up to a number of intersecting trends. Alcohol sales shot through the roof during the height of pandemic lock downs, but most people weren’t trying to get smashed before noon. Lower ABV drinks have seen a resurgence as a more moderate choice, less intoxicating and more refreshing, perfect for a wide variety of occasions. Flavored sparkling water was already on the rise as a healthier alternative to sugary soda, so this extension of the concept appealed to the population that wouldn’t be as likely to crack open a heavy, high-calorie dark beer.
For me, a standard 12-ounce can of hard seltzer is the perfect serving size. It’s reasonable to drink in one sitting so leftovers won’t go flat, and is just potent enough to provide a comfortable buzz. Most 12-packs include four different flavors to keep things interesting, without having to commit to just one taste. Even if you get stuck with Jiffy Lube hard seltzer, it’s never so bad that it’s completely undrinkable.
That said, we can still do better. Hard seltzer is made from fermented cane sugar or malted barley, which is converted to alcohol. This takes special yeast and enzymes, just like wine-making. However, for even better and more consistent results, who said we need to go through all that rigmarole from scratch?
Sparkling water and vodka. That’s it! You can use plain water and straight vodka to completely control the flavors through added extracts, fruit juice, or purees, or use infused options for one or either to make it even simpler.
If you’re hosting a party, set up a DIY hard seltzer bar with a variety of options for guests to mix their own. This way, they can also control the intensity of the alcohol, better accommodating both non-drinkers and heavyweights.
= 1 Cup / 8 Fluid Ounces with 4.5% ABV
That’s roughly equivalent to most hard seltzers on the market. You easily have the advantage over the competition though, because it’s infinitely scalable and much less expensive in the long run.
If you want to go au naturel, cut the sparkling water with half fruit juice or puree, like peach nectar, apple juice, or tropical punch, both for taste and sweetness. That’s usually enough for me, but if you have a real sweet tooth, a drop of liquid stevia will help take off the edge.
If you’re a hard seltzer aficionado, what’s your favorite flavor? For upscale indulgence, I do love a bracing cucumber-basil lemonade, but by the same token, I still wouldn’t turn down Desk if you offered it.